Editorial: AIDS: a disturbing reality

By Kaitlin Barr
November 29, 2007

According to Global Health Reporting.org, there are 33.2 million people in the world suffering from AIDS today. Americans are 1.3 million of those people. Disturbing numbers indeed, HIV/Aids is not a topic to joke around about.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It destroys white blood cells called CD4+ T cells in the body, which are a necessary part of everyday life. Without CD4+ T cells, the body becomes susceptible to many illnesses that the regular human body would not. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. A person with AIDS has tested positive for HIV, and the systems in their body have been weakened drastically.

Many people may not have any idea what the virus is, or even how it may be prevented, transferred or passed along. It’s a scary thing, especially for people in college who may be “sleeping around” with others they may never have met before. A person could be living with HIV and not know it until many months later when it finally starts shutting down their immune system. As awkward as it may be to have a conversation with someone asking if they in fact have been tested for AIDS, it must be done. It’s your life at stake if you happen to sleep with someone and obtain their virus.

Transmission of HIV can be transferred through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid or breast milk. Thinking that having different types of sex may prevent the disease is a wrong way to think. If you’re thinking about having a relationship with someone, it’s extremely important to find out if they are in fact HIV positive.

In 1999, scientists found the origin of HIV. They found it in a subspecies of chimpanzees native to West Equatorial Africa. It spread through hunters who were in contact with the chimps.

Really think about it. 33.2 million people in the world today are dealing with this life-threatening disease. That’s a drastic number that should not be that way. Organizations are trying to bring about more awareness to the AIDS epidemic. President Bush four years ago initiated an emergency plan for AIDS relief called PEPFAR. What the president did was to fund $15 billion over five years throughout 15 poor countries. The money has gone towards aiding countries in the hope of stopping the spread of AIDS.

More and more companies in the United States are also aiding in the cause to stop the spread of AIDS. Different products such as cell phones, cameras, t-shirts, ipods and jewelry are all decorated in the color red which is the color that represents AIDS awareness. The Killers, a popular alternative band from Las Vegas, Nevada, are joining in as well. Through sales of their upcoming CD, which is made up of all Christmas songs, the band will donate all of their proceeds to AIDS awareness.

Catholic Relief Services and Robert Makunu have recently been to Cabrini to speak to students about AIDS and the effect it has on not only the people but also the entire country. To become more involved, visit CRS’s website at www.crs.org and join in the effort to stop the spread of AIDS.

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Kaitlin Barr

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